One of the things that I speak to young men about who play sports or anyone who is willing to listen is the need to always stay humble. Never get to a point where you think you are the best or your skills are good enough. Always stay hungry. The same applies at work. I recently had a discussion about industry certifications with a colleague and the debate was around whether or not they were needed.
I initially took the position that years of experience and traditional education was all that was needed in our space. I recall my arrogant response to his advocacy of certifications; “we built these models and used them on real projects, why do I need some organization to validate that…?” and then I had an aha moment and realized that I was not practicing what I preached.
Complacency is the one thing that gets organizations in trouble and it can stagnate a career pretty quickly, as well. Past success is no guarantor of future impact. While the cynic in me worries about organizations that try to be credential heavy, I have an appreciation for trying new approaches when the old ones are not working. So I am coming down on the side of “formal” continuous self improvement because I don’t want to be a winner that starts to lose and I recently backed that up by becoming Six Sigma Lean Certified.